In a difficult season for Aston Villa, their one standout performer, their one ray of sunshine has been young attacking midfielder Jack Grealish. I think it would have been fair to say that going into this season, it was going to be a tough going for the Villains, but their talisman would be the man to build their team around, especially with the expansive budget they had.
However, despite the additions made, Villa find themselves 19th in the Premier League, with their fate still up in the air until the Premier League decide how to finish the league. Should Villa get relegated in any case, I don’t think that there is any doubt that Grealish will leave the Birmingham club, as he is very deserving of a spot in a ‘Big Six’ squad.
Nevertheless, as a boyhood Aston Villa fan, Grealish may be tempted to stay at the club just out of loyalty to the team that gave him the opportunity to play in the top flight a few years ago, the team that he played with in the final of the FA Cup and the team that he captained to a play-off final victory over Derby just a year ago.
If the season continues and Villa do find themselves relegated, then the vultures of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur (just two of the teams he’s been linked with) will circle over the Midlands, determined to land their man.
For a player that has yet to make a single international appearance at the age of 24, there is certainly a lot of hype surrounding Grealish, especially with plenty of competition in his natural position. Ireland may come calling back to Grealish to change his mind and represent Ireland instead of England, seeing as he represented them at a youth level. Maybe this could be the step to international football he has lusted after?
Why should Jack Grealish leave?
If Jack Grealish was to leave the Villains, then I think he would most likely go straight to a ‘Big Six’ club. If he were to go to Manchester City, there will be a huge, huge pay rise on his contract, as well as a lot of future glory and success with the trophies that the Citizens will naturally win, despite possibly not being able to compete in continental competitions for a couple of seasons.
Without the distraction of European competitions, the title chase will, of course, be the sole focus for City, and could Grealish be the man to replace David Silva in the heart of the midfield? Possibly, but I’d be one of the first to say that he isn’t quite ready to lead that charge just yet.
I think it would be the same as if he joined Spurs. In my opinion, I think that Grealish would stagnate in North London, with an unambitious chairman at the helm and far stronger squads in all competitions would leave Grealish floundering for attention as he slowly sinks into the depths of mediocrity.
I feel as if a move to a team like Everton would be far better for him, as he could easily walk into the No.10 position and be the star man as the Toffees strive for a return to the Europa League, and from there, he could then get England appearances under his belt and then get a move to a bigger, title-winning club.
Why should Jack Grealish stay?
Jack Grealish lives and breathes Villa, and has done so his whole life (apart from a season-long loan at Notts County, which I’m choosing to ignore here). Even his great-great-grandfather, Billy Garraty, played for them, winning an FA Cup in 1905.
Aged just 18, he made his Premier League and Villa debut against Manchester City at the Etihad of all places. At the age of 19, he hauled Villa past Liverpool at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final, assisting Delph’s winner to then play the entirety of the final defeat to Arsenal.
The Aston Villa fans adore Grealish, which is evident in many social media comment sections after an England squad is selected. Having captained them since March 2019 and making nearly 150 appearances for them already in all competitions, he has already cemented his place in the hearts of all the fans of the club he’s supported since he was six. Because of this, a sense of loyalty may convince him to follow his heart and stick around at Villa Park for a little while longer.
I do think that staying in Birmingham would hinder his development as he would perpetually be surrounded by players below his ability and while being a big fish in a small pond, his career will never really move beyond the points it is at now. Yes, staying would be loyal and the massive fanbase would maintain their love for him, but if he follows his mind and does what’s best for him in footballing terms, then a way out is definitely the way to go.
This article was written exclusively for golear.co.uk